Bite PR Blogging Seminar – Mark Jen

Mark Jen was fired from Google. He broke a few cardinal rules such as not being sensitive to Google’s culture which didn’t support blurting things out. He also broke a cardinal rule of blogging by deleting posts. This is a huge red flag that will only draw attention to the post which can be retrieved from RSS feeds and browser caches. He also mentioned sensitive information right before 4th quarter earnings were released.

Mark now works for Plaxo.

Plaxo has a blog but they’ve made a decision to segment the comments over onto the forums.

Bite PR Blogging Seminar – Tom Foremski

Tom previously was the Silicon Valley correspondent for the Financial Times and later founded the Silicon Valley Watcher.

Tom joined to FT to take advantage of the brand and the infrastructure to get his word out. When blogging came along, this new publishing and distribution system came to the masses.

Are bloggers journalists? Not a relevant question – it’s all about reach. It’s about a trusted relationship, a brand that gets built up reader-by-reader over time.

Richard Koman on blogging ethics – most of the people that were paid to blog for Marqui ended up just blogging about being paid to blog about Marqui and didn’t write much about the actual CMS product.

On SEO – don’t waste money on search engine optimization, companies should put their money back into “their knitting”. Why waste money on boosting your ranking if you can’t deliver on what you promise via your links.

On sources – people can’t help telling you stuff. It’s important to let people know that “off the record” is default.

No one has ever been fired for blogging, only for “inappropriate conversations.”

Bite PR Blogging Seminar – How to Pitch Bloggers

Presented by Jill Ratkevic of Bite.

Tivo – select play, select 30, select. Not something that Tivo could officially endorse or promote but blogging has gotten the word out there for them.

On blogging and journalism – blogging is open source journalism. Whatever you write will be corrected by your readers. If you readers have a bad experience that you don’t cover, they will contribute this information as comments. It’s based on dialog, not monologue.

On harnessing the conversation – relationships take time, talk about the issues first, not your product.

Pitching bloggers – need to build cred with the influencers by tipping them off with fresh information in real-time for feedback which can then be incorporated into your pitch to the mainstream media.

Traditional PR is about the number of clips. It’s a different world now. It’s no longer about mentions, it’s about results. Jill talks about their client which generated much better ROI from their 10,000 beta testers that seeded the conversation around their product than from traditional press releases and media tours.

Bite PR Blogging Seminar – Q&A

Rod Boothby (E&Y) asks – what about the blogging in companies? Are conversations of benefit to companies?

Absolutely. Companies have souls, they have a “nature.” The value system comes from its founders. Some companies are born to blog. There’s an inverse relationship between branding and blogging. Companies that have a strong brand have difficulty with blogging. Companies can’t talk, people do.

Question – How are PR departments handling blogging?

It’s important for companies to have as many people blogging as possible. Need to trust your people to have good judgment. There’s something about blogging that acknowledges the incompleteness of what we know. This is anti-thetical to messaging which is about driving home a point.

Current Events

Bite PR Blogging Seminar – Doc Searls

I’m attending the Bite blogging seminar at the W in San Francisco. Swish venue with not only lemons and lime in the drinking water but strawberries.

Great line up of speakers, about 50 – 60 people seated. They’ve got wireless so I’ll pass on some of the highlights.

Doc Searls – talks about his writing of Cluetrain Manefesto

On Blogging – email that I would write with “cc:world”

On time it takes to blog – if you look at your email, the volume you put out in email probably exceeds what’s up on my blog.

On marketing – it’s about conversations and not messages. Branding was a concept that P&G brought from the cattle industry. Branding is about putting out 8 boxes of soap and “singing about the difference.”

On writing as content – John Perry Barlow once said that he never heard about content until the container business felt threatened. Once you start talking about “content” you’re already off base.

On the Net – it’s a place, not a medium. The nodes of the net are not separated by time or space, a blog post is immediate. Once you You don’t send a message using “content.” You’re having a conversation in a place. You are “on the net,” you use real estate metaphors to describe the net.

Update: I left off the best line of the conference. As a parting thought, Doc described (and I’m paraphrasing” his life before blogging as one of, “pushing many big rocks a short way uphill” and his life now as a blogger as, “rolling many snowballs down a hill with the compelling ideas gaining mass as they roll downhill.”

Current Events

Blogging and Meetup

I’m going local on you, I know but I just wanted readers in the San Francisco/East Bay area know that Ginevra and I have taken on organizational duties at two local blogging meetups and will be hosting events next month. If you’re in the area, stop by, we look forward to meeting you!

The San Francisco Movable Type Meetup – April 11th @ 7 pm
The Alameda County Weblogger Meetup – April 20th @ 7 pm

Current Events

Andy Lark

Ok. Last post about the NewComm conference. Andy Lark, formally a VP of Marketing at Sun, is now out on his own as a speaker, evangelist, and consultant for firms that are looking for someone to help them with their blogging strategy.

Shameless plug: Andy is on TypePad on an account that he started while still at Sun. Sun has their own blogging infrastructure so when chided by Sun execs for not having his blog running on a Sun product, he shot back that what he wrote on his blog was his and he wanted to have the right to take the content (and more importantly, the domain, links, and comments) with him when if he ever left Sun.

Andy gave an inspirational talk about the benefits of blogging for corporations, particularly those in charge of interpreting the corporate voice for the public (that would be Public Relations). The best summary of his talk that I could find (I’m sure there will be more in the coming days) was by Jeremy Wright.

UPDATE: You can download a copy of his 82-slide presentation here.


New Communications Forum

Just got back from two days at the New Communications Forum which was an interesting mix of old hand bloggers meeting with PR professionals to talk about the impact of blogging on the art of Public Relations. Lots of interest as everyone understands the potential of this new medium but we all realize that we’re grasping for a way to measure it in a way that it maps to the usual methods of getting the word out.

Some highlights:

  • The Kryptonite/Bic pen scandal cost the company $10 million in just 10 days because they had to replace over 100,000 locks. That’s almost half of their $25 million annual sales.
  • Yahoo’s Searchblog went from 0 to 500 subscribers to it’s RSS feed in just 60 days.
  • “Email disseminates information, Blogs discuss information.” Neville Hobson
  • “RSS is like TiVo for the web.” Andy Lark
  • the blogosphere loves Bob Lutz as a CEO who “get’s it”
  • there’s money to be made in “blogsaulting”
  • the difference between a message board and a blog
  • stripes and checks don’t mix (inside joke with Stowe Boyd)
  • “blogerrific” – an new adjective coined by Tom Foremski to describe something that’s been improved with either RSS or blogging technology, i.e. the new, improved C|Net that now accepts Trackbacks.
  • “The days when you could control the message are over. Now the best you can hope to do is influence the conversation,” says Shel Holtz. I would add, this is why companies need to participate in the blogosphere with an active blog. If a person runs into a room at a party going full tilt, they are not going to have a hard time getting anyone to listen to them if they just stand at the transom shouting. They need to mingle and get to know people first.
  • the concept of “darkspots” on corporate websites. FedEx has one – it’s a blank area reserved on their top page for where they might put a tab to announce updates on a labor dispute that might impact shipping schedules. The area is kept free so that the tab can be put in place at a moments notice without disrupting the layout and design of the page.
  • it’s always great to see your company’s product being used in realtime to update the conference’s web site

My favorite take away from the two days is Elizabeth Albrycht’s snappy answer to the “What’s the ROI on blogging,” question. Nail down and measure the “Investment” so that you can properly frame and measure the “Return.” If someone is investing time into posting a company blog, think of the time they are saving by not having to call or email everyone individually to maintain that a connection. Think also of all the new conversations that get started as a result of that post.

ROI is going to be a hot topic as blogging gets evaluated as a tool for the corporation. What the industry needs is a new metric by which influence can be measured over time as corporate blogs are launched – it’s not page views, it’s not quite RSS subscribers either – we need a way to measure topic “buzz” and site “authority” – there’s a business opportunity there for someone.

Blog University, Napa

I’ll be up in Napa tomorrow for the New Communications Forum Blog University. If any of you kind readers are going to be there, look me up.


December 2004 TiE SIG

I took notes at the inaugural meeting of the new TiE Special Interest Group focused on the internet. The event was titled, “Wikis, Blogs, and Other Four Letter Words” and put together by Manish Chandra who wants to create a program, “to educate and inspire people to innovate and enter the next dimension of the Internet.” If you have ideas for the future meetings (located in Santa Clara, CA), contact Manish at [email protected].

Panel members are:

What about the uploading of video files and audio files?

Andrew: it’s already happening with Podcasting where people are uploading audio files to blogs. It’s just a question of the bandwidth catching up.

Andrew: blogs are my filter. I let the interesting stories filter up through the blogosphere and use popularity rankings to point me to things I should read from the traditional media, I leverage the emergent intelligence of the blogging community. Bloglines, Feedster, Newsgator all help me filter the blogs. Better to leverage the collective intelligence of the 5 million blogs out there.

Scott Rafer invited up to show how Feedster works. As a “search engine for developers” so that less and less of their traffic will be from individuals running searches and more and more from machines that are coming to Feedster to getting information. Each search has an XML output that can feed into an application. Feedster will soon launch their job postings service that will run on the same model. The engine will be used to create streams of location-specific job postings that Feedster will sell to publications that want to re-purpose it.

How do you make money on all this?

Andrew: TypePad is integrated with the Amazon Associates program. They will also integrate an ad program with Kanoodle in Q1 2005. Six Apart’s job is to enable people to use our tools to make money for themselves.

Joe: JotSpot makes money on direct revenue. By also making tool development easy and accessible, we’ll enable all the small IT shops out there to quickly develop customized apps that solve specific problems. This enables them to charge for more billable hours.

With all these tools, is this reducing face-to-face interaction?

Many hands go up to say they use IM at work to communicate to people less than two feet away.

Stewart mentions the example of someone’s son talking to a computer screen expecting to talk with his grandfather in Estonia. The computer is less a box and more a window. More and more people are looking at the cell phone screens and not talking on them.

Will Flickr, TypePad, JotSpot merge? They’re all about sharing information.

Reid: it’s the next generation of Yahoo broken up into many different pieces.

Stewart – the average Yahoo user uses 2.1 of the 40 sites on Yahoo.

Andrew: they have already merged. You can have a Flickr sidebar on your TypePad blog. You can point to wiki post from within a blog. Integration is already there, it’s better to have things interchangeable as needed.

What challenges are there in “crossing the chasm?” Where are you on the scale of 1 to 10?

Andrew: the blog is on a “2” – is now in the top ten in terms of pageviews next to all the big media sites. People are learning to read and in the process of reading, they begin to think, “I can do that too,” then, they will begin to blog. We’re still really in the “people learning to read” stage.

Joe: We’re still very early days. We believe in nerd power but we’re still way out of the mainstream. We’re maybe a “1” but other wiki tools are maybe a “0.3”

Stewart: We’re a “3” but our challenge is not to alienate the core users by taking the app to the mainstream. We’re getting close to the point where most everyone will either own or be related to someone that owns a digital camera – they will all want to share these pictures and that is when the market will really grow.

Reid: What will blogging look like three years from now?

Andrew, it will push into families just as email and IM has done so in the past. Blogs are really the third leg of communication. Blogs are used to document the “full record” of a conversation that’s going on.

Reid – What will be some of the cool apps on JotSpot?

Joe says people are now running call centers, project management, a number of other traditional apps on JotSpot. The best ones are the micro-solutions that solve specific problems for a small group of people really well. Picking up on the three years from now thread, he says that the Wiki will be just another app just like email and a shared network drive.

400,000 people make money on eBay. Joe would love to spawn a network of small time developers to create and make money off apps that they sell that run on JotSpot.

Reid – What of photo sharing in three years?

Stewart says that photo sharing will become a new notification method. Instead of a phone call to say that she arrived safely, someone might post a picture of their luggage arriving. Photostreams will act to document movements (he cites the example of him taking a picture at a Giants game and then someone in San Francisco giving him grief for not stopping by while he was in town).

He goes on to say that he likes the fact that whole communities are developing around specific tags. Vintage 50’s toys and these groups sharing their favorite toys via Flickr – people connecting.

Reid: Isn’t a blog just another way to publish a web page? Why is Six Apart charging?

Andrew answers by telling the story of how Ben and Mena were pulled into supporting Movable Type for enterprises by their customers that wanted an upgrade cycle and official support for the product.

Reid: What of Open Source? What do you tell developers? Why should they develop to your platform?

Joe says that you can do much more on JotSpot as far as integrating with enterprise systems than you can using open source tools. One attraction of open source is that it’s “hackable,” JotSpot has tried to retain this so that applications that are built on it are easily modified. They also have made JotSpot inexpensive so that it is easily accesible. They were inspired by Six Apart’s pricing for TypePad where you can get up and running for under $5.

Reid: Where does the money come from? Flickr doesn’t charge like other photo sharing sites such as Ofoto or Shutterfly, what’s the financial plan?

Stewart says we don’t really think of ourselves as a competitor of Ofoto, Snapfish, etc. because photo finishing is expensive. These finishing sites give away sharing as a way to sell finishing services. Flickr will sell better sharing tools as a way to differentiate. Many households have digital cameras so there is a market for the pro-sumer digital camera geeks that Flickr can address. 82% of the 2 million photos on Flickr are public – there is an opportunity to sell advertising around tags related to the public shared photos.

Reid is posing the questions. Are these new apps, (JotSpot, TypePad, Flickr) a platform?

Andrew is talking about the TypePad app as being an extensible platform off of which simple applications can be built. He talks about how Typelists that list books from Amazon tie into web APIs but via a simple, web-based front end.

Joe talks about two articles. The first is the Chris Anderson’s Long Tail piece in Wired. The second is Situated Software by Clay Shirky. He believes there is a long tail in the software business. A vast majority of business is run on the backs of simple Excel spreadsheets that are shared via email, not the large, bulky CRM or SFA apps. Joe feels that there is a need for a platform to share information quickly and easily.

Stewart talks about what happens when you release your API into the wild. Within a few days there was an iPhoto plug in that allowed Mac users to upload photos to Flickr. Leveraging the talents of the community has helped him support the larger community with better tools. In general, outside developers can do a better job that you can yourself.

Stewart is showing his Flickr page. 55% of their users came to Flickr via blogs that were pointing to Flickr pages.

He is showing how to search and add metadata. The process of adding metadata is “collaborative and social,” because Flickr can bring together commonality through your network of contacts or common metatags. He also is showing how you can add tags to photos of your contacts.

Stewart has 400 contacts.

The ability to tag needs to be social – the failure of current machine translation shows that automated tagging has a long way to go.

Now he’s showing the top tags on Flickr and then is drilling in on tags associated with India.

Andrew is now showing BoingBoing as an example of a blog that runs on Movable Type. He then shows Mighty Goods as an example of how a blog can be turned into a front end for an affiliate business.

As an example of a quick & easy extension of a developer network, he is showing the Pay Pal site that runs on TypePad. This shows how developers can quickly get the word out to their developer network without investing in an infrastructure to support it..

He then points to his own site where he’s moblogging this event from the perspective of a panelist.

The event is going to be back-to-back demos. Joe is currently demoing JotSpot.

He is showing how the JotSpot version of a wiki can easily transform itself into a platform for “rapidly building lightweight, customized application” that integrate data from your local hard drive, your network, and across the internet.